The nobles of Alterac who had announced their petition fall into a shocked silence. Lord Xie has made his choice. They have come to complain of Lightist fanatics, and yet the lord would ally with the Church. It was not an unwise move; they know this much. Perhaps as allies of the Church, they will be spared the coming crusades. Or so they hope.
Soon the feast is over, and silence reigns over Alterac. The nobles return to their estates to prepare. Messengers are sent to Lordaeron to intercept the king and present him with Alterac's offer of an alliance.
Lord Xie is now in the midst of political upheaval.
The following day, within the palace of Alterac, he is approached by General Drace. Drace is smiling visibly, his helmet under his arm. "My lord." Drace speaks, still grinning. "I bring you good news. Your declaration has pleased the Lightist populace of the city. The people are taking up arms. They want to attack Tarren Mill, my lord. Tarren Mill's governor was murdered by cultists, and now the cult rules the town. We can move and take it within days if you but command it."
Xie is now in a difficult position. If he attacks Tarren Mill with the excuse of liberating it, he might anger nearby Dalaran. However, if he does not, the Lightist fanatics within his city might turn on a new target in their frenzy.
That same day, General Drace returns to him with a proposition. "My lord, I have spoken with the Court Wizard Caxagord. The Court Wizard and I have come to an agreement, and we need your permission to carry through a grand operation. We wish to train our best magi and soldiers into a new organization; an organization of Assassin-Magi. It will be heavy on the people because of the taxes, but it may be worth it."
Overlord Nuvazgal nods at Jin'thek, his powerful brow furrowed. He makes as if to say something, but hesitates. Clearly, he expected Jin'thek to take up his challenge, but he dares not press the matter. Nuvazgal is a deadly opponent and a feared lord in Zul'Aman, commanding the absolute respect of his Mosstusks, but he similarly knows that Jin'thek is no fool to be trifled with. The two warlords maintain eye contact, before exchanging a formal bow and praising the Loa. "We will be there, mon. But you be sendin' your lieutenant there to avenge my people. Our trolls will hunt togetha' for these murderer long-ears. Now leave us, Jin'thek. We be seein' eachother real soon, mon. Ula-Tek guide you brotha'."
Lieutenant Ba'jal exchanges a glance with Jin'thek, eager to question his master as to whether he should indeed go out and hunt the elves. "Later, Ba'jal. I must think." Jin'thek whispers, as the Amani leave to return home. They leave the bodies of the Mosstusk trappers behind for their brothers and sisters to bury them, and return to the Shrine of Ula-Tek. Jin'thek still has much to decide. Time is of the essence.
Back at Ula-Tek his orders are being carried out. Preparations and defenses are being put in place to ensure that the coming festival goes well. Witch Doctor Gruc'jen has returned, and rushes to meet Jin'thek as he dismounts from his hawkbeast. "Jin'thek, I return from the southern tribes. Them Witherbark been told 'bout tha' Summertide. They promised to tell the lesser tribes they protect to come as well. Mossflayers from Zul'Mashar. Firetree and Smolderthorn from the east. Revantusk from the Hinterlands, Shadowpine from the west. I will now go to the Mosstusk my lord." "No need, mon. I told them myself." Jin'thek explains. "Jin'thek." Gruc'jen pushes. "One tribe might be refusing your offer. It be them Vilebranch. They hole themselves up in their city of Jintha'Alor, self admitted children of the Loa they call Elortha no Shadra. They be sayin' it be heresy to leave their city and consort with us in a festival dedicated to the other Loa. They will pay tribute to no other than Shadra."
Cyrus grins at his Admiral and passes a venomous look to the vizier. "Of course liege. If you accomodate us, we will accomodate you. The Lightists of Boralus will remain loyal. I assure you. Appoint me as the lord of their community and I will handle the reins."
Soon, Thaumas is left in contemplation in his throne room alone. The weight of the nation bears down upon him. With his old, dear, dear friend, Janus, sailing to depose him but a day away, there is no limit to what he must worry about. Suddenly, his musings are interrupted by a gentle hand on his shoulder. It is his father Phorcys, self-proclaimed messenger of Mnesthes. "I have meditated as I promised, my son. I bring you a warning." Phorcys' face was graven and serious, his long, greying hair which falls around his face and shoulders does little to hide the worry on his face. "I sense that you are in terrible danger, as am I. We are being hunted, my lord. Mnesthes has granted me a vision. Two powerful magi accompany the false Admiral Janus. They bear the mark of an ancient order, and they come to end us and wrest this nation from us. We must waste no time. Come with me to Drisburg. Let us take all that we have at our disposal. If those ships land we may be doomed. Use your mind, dear Thaumas, else we shall fail."
Ulyssan makes his pledge, though he does not make eye contact with Javali regardless. He quickly excuses himself after thanking Javali. Archhareveim Zinizar answers the call to attendance immediately. She is a strong woman, the head of the worshippers of Zinine within Dalaran. Javali had sheltered her in the face of the Lightist fanatacism, and in exchange she had helped him take command of the city. She surveys him with keen, calculating and cold eyes. Wisdom is the mark and boon of Zinine, but Javali cannot help but wonder if in the case of Zinizar, wisdom is replaced with cunning. They meet on the grand balcony of the Violet Citadel, Javali's usual and favoured place for such meetings.
"I know why you have called me, Javali. We have put off this meeting for long enough. Yet before you even think about beginning our negotiation, I have one single demand to make. This is outside of any former agreements. It is a formal request. My Hareveim have come into conflict with the Archivists."
Javali knew the Archivists well. They were an ancient, monastic order within Dalaran, maintaining the libraries of the city. Within their own lair beneath the city, it is said that they write prophecy. It is said that they can trace the pattern of future events in the wind and in the air, and they scribble their ravings on parchment day and night, forever gnashing their teeth over the sad fate of the world that they are cursed to perceive.
Zinizar continues. "I want you to solve this problem, whatever the solution may be. The Archivists carry information crucial to the network of cults within the kingdom, but they allow no one within their hallowed halls. The gods whisper of the necessity of the acquisition of their scrolls."
Sherman closes his eyes, taking a deep breath. He is clearly hesitant to carry out these orders. "But my king; to deliver ourselves into the hands of Krowl? Are you sure this is wise?" For Sherman to question Alford he must truly be shaken. Due to the magnitude of Sherman's loyalty and the rarity at which he would ever dare to even think twice about asking such a question, Alford decided to let the issue pass. "It is necessary, Marshal. I will not risk Andorhal and leave my people starving." "Aye, my king." Sherman affirms.
Alford Menethil's letters and instructions are provided, and a personal retinue is assembled to accompany him to Andorhal. As the company rides for the gates disguised, they are intercepted by Court Wizard Thomassy and another wizard at his side, who is wearing orange. "My king, before you leave; this here is Court Wizard Caxagord from Alterac. He just teleported in with a message from Lord Xie. Xie wishes to propose an alliance between our nations in the face of the heretical discord going on in the continent."